Renewables and traditional energy can exist side by side during transition

Economies are gradually making the choice in favour of renewable sources of energy, but for some time, fossil fuels and renewables will complement each other – that was the conclusion of participants at the Valdai discussion club during a session entitled “Tech War: How Far Will It Go?”

“People recognise that the future lies with renewables. And that’s where you see the investment flowing,” said James Andrew Lewis, Senior Vice President and Director of the Technology Policy Program for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Of course, there’s interest in subsidies. And there’s a political interest in global concern for climate change. But the economics favour renewables. And this is an area that will be a growth area in the future.”

Lewis told participants in Moscow that German carmakers had taken note of a gradual trend by motorists to choose electric vehicles instead of traditional internal combustion models.

Shailesh Nayak, Director of India’s National Institute of Advanced Studies, told the meeting it was clear that the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources would take some time. And in the intervening period both systems would exist side-by-side and complement each other.

“The main reason that renewables are gaining in importance and popularity is climate change. But apart from that, it also makes economic sense,” Nayak said.

“You will see that the price of solar energy is now much cheaper than thermal energy. But at the same time there are certain drawbacks.”

Solar energy, he said, depended on having sunny days, while storage technology was still in a developing stage.

“What we would need is an optimum mix of renewables, along with the traditional thermal and nuclear and hydro,” Nayak told the meeting.

“Nowadays, there is a lot of calculation being made that the protection and preservation of the environment makes good economic sense in the long term. There is the thinking that it is some kind of impediment to development. But it is good economic sense to protect our environment.”

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